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Is Ground Beef That Was in the Refrigerator For 7 Days and Has Turned Brown Still Usable?

Most people have experienced buying some ground beef and putting it in the fridge, only to forget about it for about a week.

When you finally discover it, it has turned brown. And, when this happened to me, I wondered if that beef was still usable.

If you have ever had a similar experience, then read on to find out what is safe and isn’t safe with refrigerated ground beef.

Is ground beef that was in the refrigerator for 7 days and has turned brown still usable?

If you have had raw ground beef in the fridge for 7 days and it turns brown, then it is not safe to use. The brown color on the outside of the meat indicates that rot and parasites have begun to spoil the meat. The meat should not be cooked or eaten and should be thrown away to avoid sickness from eating rotten meat.

Is Ground Beef That Was in the Refrigerator For 7 Days and Has Turned Brown Still Usable
Is Ground Beef That Was in the Refrigerator For 7 Days and Has Turned Brown Still Usable

How Long Does Raw Ground Beef Last in the Refrigerator?

Generally speaking, ground beef will only last in the refrigerator for only one to two days.

However, it will store in the freezer for up to four months.

So, if you are planning to use the ground beef within a day or two of buying it, store it in the refrigerator.

Otherwise, freeze the meat.

This is also an important rule to use when thawing ground beef from your freezer. Always thaw your meat in the refrigerator, and then use it promptly.

I find it best to transfer the frozen ground beef from my freezer to my refrigerator the night before I want to cook the meat.

Never thaw your beef at room temperature. If the meat is allowed to sit at room temperature for more than a couple of hours, it will likely gain bacteria that can cause sickness.

Thawing your beef in the refrigerator does not allow bacteria to form on the meat due to the cold temperatures in the fridge.

If your meat turns colors, this is a very noticeable change of the meat that tells you that it may not be good anymore.

However, there are other clues and warning signs to watch for when inspecting your ground beef.

Other Ways to Tell if Your Ground Beef is Fresh or Rotten

Meat changing from red to gray or brown is only one warning sign that your ground beef has gone bad. But, there are many others.

These other warning signs may require you to use other senses besides your sense of sight.

I find that one of the easiest ways, if not the most pleasant, for telling whether or not your beef has gone bad is the smell test.

If you wonder about your ground beef, take a nice deep sniff. And, if it is bad, you will know.

Fresh meat does not have a powerful smell, but spoiled meat will curl your toes. Rotten beef will give off a sharp rancid odor that will let you know to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Another test is the touch test. Fresh ground beef should break into chunks when you squeeze it between your fingers.

If the meat starts to go bad, it will feel slimy or stringy. This is another sign of rotten beef and an oddly satisfying tactile experience. Just don’t forget to wash your hands after.

Finally, another good rule of thumb that makes a lot of sense is checking the expiration or sell-by date.

It is ideal to check this before you purchase the meat, but looking at these dates will help you judge how fresh the meat is.

If there is a sell-by date, you generally have a day or two before the meat will go bad. If the meat has an actual expiration date, do not eat expired meat.

How Long will Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Refrigerator?

How Long will Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Refrigerator?

Although cooked ground beef does last longer in the fridge than raw ground beef, it still doesn’t last that much longer.

It is safe to keep your ground beef leftovers in the refrigerator for around four days after you have cooked them.

Anytime later than four days, and you will be playing with fire. Or I should say, you could be playing with a sour stomach.

After four days, the meat could have gained bacteria that will make you or your family sick.

Again, like with raw beef, if you want your cooked meat to last longer, throw it in the freezer. Cooked ground beef should last a couple to three months in the freezer.

Again, thaw it in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature.

Frqeuently Asked Question About Is Ground Beef That Was in the Refrigerator For 7 Days and Has Turned Brown Still Usable?

What if my ground beef is red on the outside but gray on the inside when I break it up?

If your ground beef is grayish-brown on the inside and still red on the outside, you are safe to cook and eat the meat. Often, the inside of the meat will turn gray or brownish due to the lack of oxygen.

What if I am not sure if my ground beef is fresh or not?

In cases of insecurity whether ground beef is still safe to eat always lean to the side of caution. If the meat makes you hesitate due to any of the warning signs such as bad smell or color toss it.


In the end, it is always better to be safe about questionable ground beef rather than to cook it bravely.

But, if your ground beef has been in the refrigerator for seven days and turned brown, that is five days too long.

It always pays off to be safe with your meat and ensure your family and friends’ only discomfort after the meal is from overeating your delicious food.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)

Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.